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North Wales Police

North Wales Police




North Wales Police (Welsh: Heddlu Gogledd Cymru) is the territorial police force responsible for policing North Wales. The headquarters are in Colwyn Bay, with divisional headquarters in St Asaph, Caernarfon and Wrexham.

The North Wales Police Authority consists of 17 members, of which 9 are councillors, 3 are magistrates and 5 are independent members). The councillors are appointed by a Joint Committee of the unitary authority councils of Anglesey, Conwy, Gwynedd, Denbighshire, Flintshire and Wrexham.

Under proposals made by the Home Secretary on 6 February 2006, the force would merge with Gwent Police, South Wales Police and Dyfed-Powys Police, to form a single strategic force for all of Wales. This proposal has come up against particular criticism in North Wales, which tends to have stronger transport and economic links with north-west England than with the rest of Wales.

Gwynedd Constabulary was formed in 1967 by the amalgamation of the previous Gwynedd Constabulary, Flintshire Constabulary and Denbighshire Constabulary.

In 1974, the Local Government Act 1972 created an administrative county of Gwynedd covering the western part of the police area (equivalent to the original Gwynedd Constabulary area). As a result of this, the force was renamed North Wales Police on 1 April 1974.

In recent years North Wales Police has attracted a great deal of media attention above and beyond its size. Many have attributed this phenomenon to its former Chief Constable Richard Brunstrom, who accepts he is obsessed with speeding motorists. He has often courted controversy and publicity through his vocal views on speeding motorists and the legalisation of drugs. The Sun newspaper dubbed him the "Mad Mullah of the Traffic Taleban." Despite this negative publicity he has earned respect for learning the Welsh language, actively promoting the normalisation of its use within the force at all levels and conversing publicly through it on numerous occasions. He is also credited with modernising the organisation's infrastructure in comparison with other areas of Britain.

In April 2007, Brunstrom came under fire for an incident in which he showed a photograph of the decapitated head of a biker in a press meeting without the family's permission. He maintains that it was a 'closed' meeting, a point made both on the invitation and verbally, and that no details of the picture should have been leaked. Many people feel that just because it was a closed meeting does not mean that normal moral boundaries can be overstepped without fear of retribution. It has also drawn criticism because the photo enabled the media to identify the deceased, since he was wearing a distinctive t-shirt with an anti-police message on it, which gained a lot of attention during the inquest. Motorcycle News magazine has handed in a 1,600 signature petition to the Independent Police Complaints Commission in London requesting Brunstrom be removed, The Independent Police Complaints Commission has confirmed it will carry out an independent review into the incident.

North Wales Police has also attracted attention due to its investigation into allegations of "anti-Welsh" comments by TV personality Anne Robinson and UK Prime Minister Tony Blair. The force was believed to have carried out these investigations following complaints from members of the public. The 10-month investigation into the Prime Minister was dropped on 11 July 2006 due to a lack of evidence. It had cost £1,656, whereas the Anne Robinson investigation cost £3,800.

In 2006 the force attracted even more widespread publicity when a retired Detective Sergeant was prosecuted for alleged homophobic remarks made to a van full of officers in Wrexham.


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